Thursday, 8 August 2013

Sublime in its awefulness

If you open  (successfully) you will find an analysis of the 12 Transport Ticket Society books that I have. This might seem unaccountably boring but it is anything but. This morning a large white envelope came through the door. I have been a member of the TTS for years but this does not mean my finger is on the pulse of everything and in publishing their occasional books the TTS timeline can be fluid. What has just been achieved is the publication of the 2008 and 2010 presidential addresses. The latter by Matthew Davis is a very useful guide to contemporary credit card sized tickets used on the national British network.

The other that fell out of the envelope prompts my post title "Sublime in its awefulness". They say of war that it is an awful lot of frightened boredom and a few minutes or hours of active hell. In most wars, most of a population do their best to carry on. This naturally includes transport systems and Marco Moerland in his 2008 presidential address made it his task in 74 pages to look at the impact Hitlerism made on transport tickets. Wow. What a poignant and staggering result as step by step these little pieces of paper chart civilisation's disintegration and recovery. There is a definite political edge to the presentation with the author's view and therefore treatment that World War Two lasted from November 1918 to October 1989. I learnt that the Warsaw ghetto ran its own tramline, that Rotterdam had Nazi styled tram police and there are many examples showing the territorial aggrandisement of the Reich. A Stuttgart tramway map ticket is turned over to become a bullying piece of propaganda. Russian towns started having to issue German language tickets. Pen portraits of key personnel in the abuse and their transport impact are given.The impact of the chaos is shown even in Britain and in the immediate post war recovery and division of Europe. Many of the arrangements were quint-essentially ephemeral. The TTS is an organisation dedicated to ephemera and here in this volume is an apex of that dedication.

Guilty Tickets by Marco Moerland is published by The Transport Ticket Society. ISBN 978-0-903209-76-2. Priced £14.95 or 18 Euro.

No comments: